Saturday, January 25, 2014

TYPHOON HAIYAN AFTERMATH: Northern Cebu, Philippines Update, Israeli Medical Mission

I visited Northern Cebu, which had been badly hit by super typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda last November 8, 2013.  I have many pictures and stories, which I'll have to break up.

To give you an overview, this January 2014, Cebu as well as the rest of the Philippines is experiencing an unusual cold snap with temperatures ranging from 68 degrees to the low 70s.  This may not sound cold to some of you, but this is around 10 degrees cooler than usual, and this temperature change is enough to damage some crops and apparently kill some animals although the deaths of the cattle and others are being investigated further.  My friends, Lyn and Lautrec Ocampo , who brought me to Northern Cebu, were surprised to see fog in the farmlands of Bogo.

You can trace our route on the map: Cebu, Mandaue, Danao, Carmen, Bogo all the way to Daanbantayan.

Signs of Haiyan's destruction start near Sogod where you see uprooted trees and damaged houses (many houses lost their roofs). The damage worsens as you approach the northern tip of Cebu -- Bogo and Daanbantayan.

(Click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

It's been over two months since Haiyan struck, and people are busy rebuilding their homes. Fallen trees been cleared and cut; coco lumber is laid out under the sun to dry before use. We saw tuk-tuk-style motorcycles and other vehicles carting corrugated sheets to construction sights.

Despite the lingering evidence of destruction by Haiyan, the people were upbeat and many waved as we drove by. They have resumed life as best as they can, even though they have tarp on their roofs. They no longer stand by the roadside asking for food and help. They are back to fishing or farming, and they are all rebuilding.

With this backdrop, let me start with an update on the medical rescue mission set up by the Israeli Defense Force. Please read my earlier article, Jews in the Philippines 1940 and 2013, which is about the 150 Israeli medical team helping Haiyan victims in Bogo.

We drove to the Bogo hospital and found that the tents the Israeli medical team had worked in are gone, but some members of their rescue mission continue to work in the hospital. People were gathered to be treated and the medical staff were busy at work except for a few doctors (including Dr. Ted Green) catching their breath outside.

Regarding the Philippine-Israeli ties: I learned that holders of Philippine passports do not need entry visas to Israel. My companions also talked about Rose Fostanes, a rags-to-riches story of a Filipina caregiver who recently won Israel's version of X-Factor (a singing contest). In addition, following a bilateral agreement, Philippine flag carrier Philippine Airlines will increase direct flights to Israel.

Resuming my update on Northern Cebu, a few relief agencies are still in Northern Cebu, such as Unicef and World Vision. Oxfam is apparently still there, although we did not see their tents.

Children are back in school but because many of the schoolhouses were damaged, they attend school in shifts. Saturday was a school day so the children can meet the required school hours.

Tomorrow I'm going to blog about Jocelle and Dylan Del Rosario who survived Haiyan, so stay tuned, dear Readers!

Read also
Haiyan Aftermath: Father Desuyo from Odlot, Northern Cebu
A Northern Cebu Couple's Story of Survival

tags: Haiyan, Yolanda, super typhoon, supertyphoon, update, aftermath, Philippines, Philippine, Northern Cebu, Bogo, Daanbantayan, Israeli, Israeli Defence Force, Israel Medical Mission, doctors, medicine, health care

This is all for now,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From Araceli Lorayes:
Cecilia, do you remember Mrs. Brings? You didn't go to STC Manila for College, but maybe you remember this chunky foreign woman who taught PE to the college classes. She was one of the Jews who came to the Philippines during the time of President Quezon. Her husband taught physics at FEU. I found out about this from Marichi Francisco, a classmate of my sister Susie.

When I was a baby, about two years old, my life was saved by a Jewish doctor. I don't know what ailment I had at that time, but I was given antibiotics, which was a new thing at that time and not much was known about allergic reactions. I went into anaphylactic shock. My doctor called in a Jewish doctor, who told them to stop all the antibiotics, after which I recovered. I can still recall that illness, my memory goes that far back. The Jewish doctors had no license to practice in the Philippines, so they accompanied Filipino doctors on their rounds. They were what we now call consultants.